WIGAN Warriors ace Pat Richards has warned against reading too much into the significance of Friday’s mouth-watering derby with Warrington.
Bookmakers have the two star-studded outfits as joint neck-and-neck favourites for both Challenge Cup and Grand Final honours.
And with bragging rights – as well as two points up for grabs – winger Richards has labelled the Sky Sports-televised showdown as “massive” for both sides.
But he dismissed the notion that victory will bring with it any psychological advantage for the trophy hunt.
He said: “When I first got here all I heard about was Wigan-Saints but now Wigan-Warrington is a great rivalry as well.
“Whenever we play each other, everything steps up, the build-up, the atmosphere, the intensity – and they’ll be exactly the same.
“It’s always a massive game, it’s our first Friday night home game of the year and we’re really looking forward to it.
“I don’t think it will have a bearing (on the end of the season), because there’s such a long way to go, but it’s a big game now, we’ll treat it as that.”
Richards is poised to further cement his Wigan legacy when he takes on the second-placed Wolves.
The Australian winger needs just one point to reach the 2,000 milestone with the club.
His try and seven goals in the 42-30 win against London took him to 1,999.
But the player who earlier this year became Wigan’s third-highest points-scorer behind Jim Sullivan and Andy Farrell said: “I keep being told about (the 2,000 milestone) but I just worry about my job every week, things like that look after themselves.
“Any points I score are a credit to all the boys for all their hard work which put us in a position to score the tries we do.”
Richards has echoed Shaun Wane’s comments that Wigan will need to tighten up their leaky defence if they are to climb above Tony Smith’s Wolves in the table.
The Warriors have now conceded 67 points against lowly Widnes and London in the last two weeks, and Richards said: “He’s spot on with what he says, he was right to rip in to us because there were a few lapses there. We weren’t doing our normal thing and if you don’t play for 80 minutes against any side, they will score points.
“We’ll look at the tape in the week and work on it.”
l THE future of Wigan legend Andy Farrell could become clearer this week.
The Saracens head coach was loaned to England for the Six Nations and, after four wins from five, Stuart Lancaster will want him on board if he gets the full-time role, as widely expected.
However, that would mean the RFU paying Sarries a six-figure sum in compensation as Farrell still has two years of his contract to run.